Technology & Trade
Report

2020 ATT Annual Reports

Examining Trends and Enduring Challenges
Assessing ATT States Parties’ commitments to and advancement of transparency in the global arms trade, as exemplified by their patterns of reporting on annual arms exports and imports
By Rachel Stohl Project Director  ·  Ryan Fletcher Research  ·  Shannon Dick Research

The Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) requires States Parties to submit a report to the ATT Secretariat each year on authorized or actual exports and imports of conventional arms that occurred during the previous calendar year.

This analysis highlights trends in reporting compliance, private reporting – in which States Parties only make their reports available to other States Parties and not for public analysis – and reporting behaviors, focusing specifically on the 2020 ATT annual reports and comparing current data to trends over the previous five years.

Part of the Arms Trade Treaty Project

Introduction

The ATT requires States Parties to submit a report to the ATT Secretariat each year on authorized or actual exports and imports of conventional arms that occurred during the previous calendar year. These reports, referred to as the ATT annual reports, are due by 31 May of each year. However, the ATT Secretariat extends a seven-day grace period to States Parties, creating a de facto reporting deadline of 7 June. 

Since 2016, when States Parties were first required to submit annual reports on arms exports and imports, the number of States Parties that have fulfilled their ATT annual reporting requirements each year has fluctuated. Overall, ATT annual reporting compliance has averaged around 69 percent over the last six years, demonstrating some gaps in and challenges to global arms trade transparency as well as good practice in reporting on annual arms transfers. 

This year’s analysis aims to assess States Parties’ commitments to and advancement of transparency, as exemplified by their patterns of reporting on annual arms exports and imports. The analysis highlights trends in reporting compliance, private reporting – in which States Parties only make their reports available to other States Parties and not for public analysis – and reporting behaviors, focusing specifically on the 2020 ATT annual reports and comparing current data to trends over the previous five years. 

The report is organized into five sections. Section one examines the current status of reporting for the 2020 ATT annual reports and reflects on the ways in which the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic may be affecting States Parties’ reporting efforts. Section two highlights practices and trends in how States Parties have reported on their annual arms exports and imports – and includes insights on private versus public reporting behaviors, an examination of the different formats States Parties have used to submit their ATT annual reports, an overview of nil reporting, and comparisons of States Parties that chose to withhold commercially sensitive and/or national security-related information from their reports. Section three provides an in-depth look at what States Parties reported in their 2020 annual reports and compares this information to previous years. Section four offers a comparison of ATT reporting patterns to those of the UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA) and spotlights transparency trends and inconsistencies. Section five concludes the report with commentary on challenges in ATT annual reporting that have emerged over the last six years and contains insights on assistance available for addressing these challenges and strengthening ATT reporting and transparency in the arms trade overall.

Methodology

This report contains information about the 59 ATT annual reports on 2020 arms transfers that appeared on the ATT Secretariat’s website as of 17 September 2021. Analysis of detailed arms transfer data is drawn from the reports of the 42 States Parties that elected to report publicly on their 2020 arms transfers and does not reflect information on the 17 States Parties that submitted private reports. Percentages are rounded to the nearest whole number. To facilitate a comparative analysis between ATT annual reports and other national reports, this report also draws from reports submitted to the UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA), which cover international arms transfers undertaken in calendar year 2020. Finally, this report contains information provided by the ATT Secretariat, which offers insight on ATT reporting obligations and compliance and helps clarify State Parties’ submissions.

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